Friday, March 30, 2012

Nicolas Bearde photo by Libby Graham

Hello, I’m Libby Graham, an avid Earshot volunteer and devoted music fan who would love to enlighten you about the thriving vocal jazz house concert scene in this region.  For those of you who yearn for an alternate listening experience or wish to augment what is offered by local nightclubs and restaurants, house concerts are truly the way to go.  They provide an exciting, affordable opportunity to see stellar local and national artists perform in an intimate setting.  I find that these wonderful musicians are more relaxed in this kind of environment, allowing freer expression and excellence in their craft.

There are four fabulous vocal jazz house concert series to choose from, each unique in their own way.  I have been closely affiliated with JazzVox which is jazz fanatic Nich Anderson’s series, now in its fifth year, featuring premier vocalists from around the world accompanied by first-rate instrumentalists from the Seattle area.  He has presented such luminaries as velvet baritone virtuoso Kevin Mahogany, bebop jazz veteran Sheila Jordan, primal hipster Bob Dorough, vivacious San Francisco singer Madeline Eastman and lauded LA-based vocalist/composer John Proulx.  Fresh jazz sensation and Berklee Professor Jeremy Scott Ragsdale will make his highly anticipated appearances on April 20 and 22.   Nich has fantastic venues in Auburn, Camano Island, and Seattle, making it easily accessible for folks to attend.  Please visit for more information and to make reservations.

Another quality house concert series is JazzScapes, held by budding pianist Ivy Nugent and gifted vocalist Julie Olson in a beautiful West Seattle setting in the Arroyos neighborhood.  They have hosted the show for two years now and give it a cozy yet very elegant quality.  Together Ivy and Julie have cultivated a dedicated following and are known for treating their guests and artists with a gentle touch.   Acclaimed local favorites as Alma Villegas and Greta Matassa as well as nationally-known prodigy Nicolas Bearde have graced their stage, and upcoming concerts include Dallas-born maven Kellye Gray on April 21st and Seattle’s own enchanting songstress Stephanie Porter on June 2nd.  Visit for all the latest concert and artist information and to reserve your seats.

If the caliber of talent and the festive atmosphere weren’t enough, you are also treated to a succulent buffet for both the JazzVox and JazzScapes concert series.   All homemade recipes and special creations are lovingly prepared by cuisine connoisseurs.  A selection of wine is also served at these gatherings.

A third hugely popular house concert series, currently in its sixth year, is hosted by Lance and Laurie Haslund in their wonderful Burien home.  They are well respected musicians in this area and feature mainly classical, Americana, and swing as well as eclectic jazz artists. Their warm welcome has most recently been extended to Canadian-born vocal jazz songbird Jennifer Scott and Portland-based singer extraordinaire Nancy King, as well as fabulous local chanteuse Gail Pettis.  Lance and Laurie generously accommodate a spread of delicious foods to savor and encourage patrons to bring an appetizer or dessert and beverage to share.  They choose not to have a website and communicate via email with their series followers – contact them at to be added to their mailing list and to reserve your seats early, as they typically go fast! 

A fourth outstanding house concert series, located in central Seattle's Colman neighborhood, is the Teahouse Concerts Series hosted by jazz aficionados Reggie Bardach and her husband Richard Wells.   Founded in 2004 with an inaugural concert by renowned jazz vocalist Jay Clayton and the late, great trumpeter Floyd Standifer, this special series has become the spring and summer event worth waiting for, held in Bardach's lovely backyard garden.   Concerts take place in the late afternoon on Sundays in August, and there is time for refreshments, socializing, and enjoying the garden as well as an array of incredible music.  For the last two years, they have also presented smaller, intimate indoor house concerts featuring local artists as superb singer and pianist Dawn Clement and revered vocalist and educator Greta Matassa.  Please visit their website at for more information.

With the advent of spring, folks will be more than ready to get out and enjoy the wealth of remarkable talent in such a variety of warm and inviting abodes. This flourishing jazz house concert scene is definitely here to stay in Seattle and you are sure to relish all that these one-of-a-kind concert experiences have to offer – we’ll see you there!

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